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You will already know the importance of getting beauty sleep. But scientists now say getting a good night’s rest won’t just make you prettier — it has anti-aging effects, too. Researchers in the US, who tracked the sleeping habits of more than 6,000 people, claim those who stuck to a consistent sleeping pattern were biologically younger. Not sticking to a regular bedtime or length of sleep was linked to being in worse health and an earlier grave.

The team suggested disruptions to the body’s internal clock may speed up aging in body’s cells and the onset of age-related illnesses. While chronological age is the number of years you’ve been alive, biological age refers to how old your cells and tissues are based on their current condition. Biological aging can act as an indicator of how long a person will be in good health and their risk of death, research has shown. However, it is unclear how sleep impacts biological aging.

The team, from Augusta University in Georgia, looked at sleep data for 6,052 participants, aged 50 on average, collected as part of the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The group wore a sleep tracker for four to seven days, which collected data on sleep duration; variability (whether the time they went to bed changed each night); and irregularity (how the midpoint in a person’s sleep differed each night). It also provided data on catch-up sleep (differences in sleep length between weekdays and the weekend) and social jetlag (how the midpoint varied in a person’s sleep between weekdays and the weekend).

Biological age was calculated by analyzing the participants’ blood samples for signs of liver disease, kidney damage and diabetes , as well as high blood pressure and cholesterol. Volunteers were also quizzed on their health, including their weight, whether they drank alcohol or smoked and their activity levels. The results, published in the journal Sleep Health , show that around two-thirds of participants got seven to nine hours of sleep per night, while 16 percent got less than seven hours and 19 percent clocked up more than nine hours.

On average, participants’ bedtime changed by 60 minutes each night, while they got an extra 78 minutes sleep on the weekend. The midpoint in their sleep changed by 42 minutes each night, on average, and changed by 66 minutes on weekends, results show. Those with the biggest differences in the time they went to bed each night and length of sleep during the week compared to the weekend had the highest biological age, results show.

Those who had the least rigid sleep schedule had a biological age up to nine months older than those who were most consistent. The researchers suggested that those who frequently change the time they go to bed and wake up disrupt their circadian rhythm — their internal body clock — which may be the ‘primary mechanism’ that increases their biological age. They pointed to animal studies, which show that changes to circadian rhythm accelerates aging in the body’s cells and aggravate age-related diseases.

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Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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